A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called, Do I Have To Be Baptized .
This post sparked quite a bit of discussion, and I think some clarity needs to be given.
My perspective for the post largely had to do with the fact a number of believers make baptism a requirement. A number of people, sinners and believers think baptism is the way to Heaven. In fact, there tends to be more focus on the act of baptism than a person’s personal walk with Christ. This is troubling, and what prompted me to discuss.
I really enjoyed how the scriptures of circumcision aligned a lot with how I have been led on baptism. They are NOT the same thing. But people thought being circumcised made them righteous, just like people think being baptized makes them saved. Circumcision easily became legalistic, as the push/argument for baptism also easily becomes legalistic. It becomes more about scripture and less about our connection to Christ and bearing His name.
Now, when I say people are “making a baptism a requirement” I do not mean baptism should not be done. I do not mean that baptism is not important. I mean people are focusing more on baptism than on Christ. People focus more on pushing others to be baptized than being examples of what it means to be Christlike and showing how precious Jesus is to us. We should want to be baptized because we love Him, not cause others tell us this is what we do next.
This is making baptism a form of “works.” Not a work of faith, but a work of man.
A number of comments focused on the importance of baptism using some of the following scriptures. I want to discuss them a little bit because I feel they were taken out of context.
(NIV) Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
(NIV) Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
These first two scriptures both have the words baptize, but notice the word baptize is followed by “in the name.” We know from scripture too a baptism does not necessarily have to be physical water. It could easily be a sprinkling of water…or no water needed. As we, the body, all receive one baptism of the Spirit (reborn in the spirit, not the flesh).
We need to be baptized in His name. That is the focus of these scriptures. To be baptized IN HIS NAME. We take His name. We become His. Baptize is another term for the word “Christen” or “to name.” Baptize does not have to mean baptize in water.
No reenactment or symbolism replaces what He did. My Lord is stronger than that. His command is for the disciples to go to the ends of the earth, spreading the gospel so others know who He is and that they are baptized in His name. That they become His! Can we not be baptized from His blood? Can we not be named in Him because He died for us?
Why is it okay for some people to have exceptions from baptism but not others? Is this not a form of judgment and condemnation? God says He does not favor anyone. But by this are we saying He does indeed favor? This is why I say water baptism is legalistic.
(NIV) John 3:05-06, “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Notice that Jesus, when He says born of water, He does not say “baptize”. Though many interpret this to mean baptism. Instead, the next sentence He says has to do with the flesh. When we are in our mother’s womb, what are we surrounded by? Fluid, mostly being water, as most of our body is water. When we are born it is a messy process, water being involved.
Christ was explaining being born again. We are not born again in the water/flesh. That cannot be done, and I think that is what confused Nicodemus as he asked if we needed to return to our mother’s womb. Christ’s emphasis was on being born again through the Spirit. We are first born in the flesh/water as a baby. But then when we repent and receive salvation in the name of Christ we are born again in the spirit. Thus the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
(NIV) Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
This scripture does not say not being baptized in water will condemn us. Instead, it says that not believing will condemn us. Meaning, as discussed in the prior post. It is true people can be baptized, but they will be condemned because they do not believe. I’ll add, not being baptized in water does not compromise salvation. But not having the baptism of the Spirit does.
I think people struggled with my view because I did not make it about baptism but I did absolutely make it about having a relationship with Jesus Christ. I think baptism can become legalistic because believers push others to be baptized strictly because of what scriptures say. I think baptism is pointless if we do not have a proper relationship with Him. All of these scriptures I feel are about Him first, and not the act of physical baptism. I think it is about being named in Him.
I think the real act of baptism truly takes place when we take His name for ours. When we repent of our sins and receive salvation. There is a physical cleanse that takes place inside of us. It is refreshing. Just like the sensation of water coming over our head.
This is why John baptized, and I looked it up. Baptism from what I was seeing was not a thing until John introduced it, and he baptized because he was preparing the way for Christ. Christ would baptize us in a stronger way than how John was.
I think baptism is important for people to do. I think anyone who has a relationship with Christ should absolutely consider baptism. Baptism is SO special. For me, I got baptized because I wanted to show God this was about Him. I wanted to draw near to Him. Not because I “had to”. I believe Christ went through that step for me. He died on a cross. His blood washed my sins away.
He did that for me.
You know, as silly as it sounds, I felt like it was something I got to do for Him. I chose to be baptized. I got to show my pastor, my mom, and some of my church members that He meant that much to me, and above all, I wanted Him to know that ❤
It truly was a physical expression of love. But I believe I was already baptized in His name before I was baptized in water.
That’s why I think other people should get baptized in water. I did it for Him. It’s something special we get to do because it is all about Him, not us. I think the symbolism of water baptism is important. But by making it something we have to do…I feel like it just takes away some of that special meaning.
I know my perspective will still not be accepted by everyone, which is okay. I just want to assure you, this is all about Christ. He has to go first. I know some believe He commanded people to be baptized in water and that we, absolutely, should obey Him. Agreed. I just do not want people to obey something because they want to go to Heaven…and they do not know Him.
I want people to know Him above all else before any of this. I want people to choose Him before they choose works. Because if they do not know Him, these things do not matter. I want people to be baptized because they want to draw close to Him, not because they feel it is a requirement or the “next step” of salvation.
Jesus is our only step. “No one comes to the Father except through the Son.”
Did this post help clarify anything, please let me know.
And thank you, everyone, for your discussion/perspective in the last baptism post.
Month Question to be shared in a later post- What scriptures do you turn to when afraid or in need of comfort?
Monthly Scripture – (NIV) Galatians 6:17, “From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”
*** Community Prayer Request | September ’18 – Join Me In Praying For Each Other And If You Have A Request To Add Let Me Know.
Second Blog: Peeking Beneath